A high school senior struggles to understand himself after he falls for Brandy, a sophomore girl, while at the same time he and his friend Angus, who is openly gay, make out one night while stoned and drunk and then are continually drawn back to one another.
Will's parents divorced when he was a kid, and his mother's remarriage means he lives part-time at her large McMansion in the suburbs, where he has a stepdad and two half sisters. The rest of his time he's with his dad, who lives in Minneapolis and whose house renovation project veers badly off course as he progressively loses his ability to function due to alcoholism. Will's narrative voice is unadorned, striking exactly the right withdrawn emotional tone for a kid who has spent much of his life playing peacekeeper between his parents. He's tormented about having sex with both Brandy and Angus: not because it makes him unsure about his identity (though this is also true), but because it means he's a cheater—one of the many details carefully sketched in that will allow readers to sympathize with him. Intense, honestly described, and sometimes awkward sexual encounters will ring true for teen readers, and many will identify with the family strife, too.
Pitch perfect, raw, and moving. (Fiction. 14-18)